Review: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Title: The Witching Hour
Author: Anne Rice
Genre(s): Adult Paranormal Historical
How To Purchase: Kindle | Kobo | Paperback (Amazon)

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking. And the witching hour begins…

Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of witches – a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being.

A hypnotic novel of witchcraft and the occult across four centuries, by the spellbinding, bestselling author of The Vampire Chronicles.

Oh, my God, Anne Rice. What were you thinking?

At times this book strays into one star territory and at times it strays into the five star category. It took me months to finish it, and by the time I was done, I felt like I’d run a marathon. “Anne, this is a great story,” Anne’s editor must have said upon first reading the weighty tome placed on his desk, “however, you have to cut the back story and extraneous detail. When we’re done, this thing will be one third the size.”

“I will not!” Anne said. “I’m Anne Rice! I write what I want!”

So that is how we ended up with an intriguing plot line, an engrossing story, and a fascinating concept, splayed across several hundred pages too many. I was confused, I skimmed, and I backtracked, all because the story couldn’t stay focused.

This is the story of a supernatural creature named Lasher–is it a demon? a ghost? an alien? something else?–that harasses generation after generation of Mayfair family members. Each time the newest daughter is born, it latches onto the child and protects her above all else. People die unexpectedly and gruesomely while it bides it time, waiting for the moment to hatch its plot.

Now, the most powerful witch in history has been born. Her family has sent her away to protect her, and she knows nothing about her heritage. But it’s time that she found out.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? Too bad it’s not.

In the middle of the book is hundreds of pages of back story. One of the characters has gotten his hands on a file that’s been kept by a secret society watching the Mayfair family for thirteen generations. Ms. Rice decided to reveal the entire excruciating contents of that goddamned file to us. Who’s sleeping with whom? Whose baby is whose? Who is Auntie So-in-so in generation 8? I don’t know. And I don’t care.

The Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy taught me a valuable lesson: Even if you’re only spending your Kobo gift card money, buy one book of a series at a time. Unfortunately, I purchased all three of these books without having cracked open a one of them. Fortunately, the story gets better. Lasher is the second book, and its plot, while exceedingly weird and disjointed, is told better and is more engrossing. I haven’t yet moved on to the third book Taltos, but I don’t dread it. Someday I’ll get around to reading it.

If you like this kind of thing (generations of subtlety and twisted family trees), you’ll like The Witching Hour. If you’re like me and you can’t keep any more than four characters straight at a time, you’ll want to give this a pass. The ending I give 4.5 stars. The middle I give 0 stars. And the beginning… Eh. Probably 2. It confused me as well.

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